The media needs self examination – Dickson
Published On 27 Aug, 2015 At 03:51 PM | With 0 Comments

Seriake-Dickson
REMARKS OF HIS EXCELLENCY, HON. HENRY SERIAKE DICKSON, GOVERNOR OF BAYELSA STATE AT THE 11TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE EDITORS GUILD OF NIGERIA AT THE GOVERNMENT HOUSE BANQUET HALL, YENAGOA ON THURSDAY 27TH AUGUST,2015

LIVING THE CHANGE

It is with a great sense of honour and deep gratitude that I join every other person in welcoming you all, acting president, fellows of the guild and indeed all members of the guild to this eleventh conference of this preeminent body taking place where else but7 in Bayelsa the glory of all lands. I like to say welcome! Nua! Adoo! Alua!

At the inception of our administration, among the various programs we rolled out of building infrastructures in all its forms, investing in security to bring about security and safety, we also initiated a program of taking Bayelsa to the world and bringing the world to Bayelsa and in pursuance of that objective we have hosted major conferences, we have since become a conference head office, we have also become a fashion and entertainment headquarters, and this is just the beginning. Of all the conferences, local and international that we have hosted, there is no one that we have hosted there is no one that is dearest to my heart and the heart of my Government, the heart of our state than this particular conference of our nation’s leaders in the media here in Bayelsa. Because how else do you tell the story of a place if the leaders of the media are not there to see it for themselves. I welcome you to Bayelsa again. I want to use this opportunity to
particularly thank and appreciate you the acting president and the members of the organizing committee for the decision, very appropriate decision of bringing this conference to Bayelsa.

I have been told that this is the second time this guild will be holding this kind of conference here in Bayelsa so that also tells us about the love, the connection between this guild and Bayelsa state. Because I say all the time that in our new restoration government, we say that all good human is from Bayelsa state. By that we mean that in whatever you do, if you do it well, and you are a good gentleman and particularly if you are a good looking lady you must be a Bayelsan. And if you are all Bayelsans, all Bayelsans therefore says welcome home.

Apart from expressing our delight at the fact that you brought this conference here, to enable the world come to Bayelsa, through you and through you again to enable us meet the world let me also say that I am particularly delighted at the theme that you have chosen for this conference, a very appropriate theme. Particularly when we are getting used to the change matter. During elections and my government and all Nigerians are expecting to deliver precisely in the change we need is the change that we rightly deserve. But as you gather here, let me also say this, In this state, you all know this is the headquarters of oil and gas production in our country, The story of oil and gas and all the good things it has brought and all the challenges and ills started here. I urge you to find time to visit Oloibiri which is just five minutes drive from here and remind ourselves again that one of the most important changes that all those in authority must deliver
which is the diversification of our nation’s economy. Today we have abandoned first oil well, it is a testimony to the fact that the oils resources are indeed wasted assets. That is a critical change that we all must work on in the Government. For me as a PDP governor, my position has been that after election, all men and women of our country must unite to move our nation forward. Because the important issue that we are elected to deliver on are not partisan. They know no partisan colour, hunger has no partisan boundary, terrorism knows no partisan colour and l have always said even when people try to misinterpreted it, my position is we live to collaborate, we need to give support to the federal Government, now led by President Mohamed Buhari, on two essential fronts: to bring about the change that we need in this country, we must collaborate on issues of national security and law and order and we must also collaborate and work together as brothers and
fellow Nigerians to deliver on the economy. I feel that the last PDP government did not have sufficient understanding and corporation from the then opposition even in the area of confronting terror we politicize the war against terror, we ethinicize it and now we are almost making the same mistake. With this new Government we have known that terrorism has become the major problem that is not political and we must unite to defeat it that is why I feel strongly that all of us particularly governors who also had the same statutory and constitutional responsibility and mandate on matters of law and order and national security we must do our best until every ward, local government, state is secured, we cannot have a secured Nigeria. And we all have the same responsibility under the constitution so as it was in the past, the place of worship is blown up and everybody will be pointing fingers, that is a wrong national approach. Our nation is at war, and once a
nation is at war citizens and particularly the leaders must put aside partisan differences and unite so let me say right away that your theme calls for the change of attitude, a new wave of playing politics, delivering service to our people that calls for consensus on critical national issues, security. We should do the selecting and we shouldn’t politicize it or ethnisize it. Rather working together all of us citizens of one great nation to deliver prosperity. This I believe are essential components of what should be the change that we all need. Now in this conference, we will more than anybody else in this room have greater responsibility to mould public opinion and mirror us for ourselves and most importantly for the outside world no other group of professionals has this burden of responsibility more than you the leaders of the fourth estate of the media. I say this not because I am personally a lover of the media, probably if I did not study law I would have ended up as a journalist myself. But to let you know the enormity of the constitution mandate that you have, there is no profession that has been given the constitution mandate and authority that you the media practitioners have been doing in our country. By the constitution, you won’t see any constitutional mandate given to my profession, the Nigerian Bar Association. We are just treated as a professional association the only thing that comes through to say the Attorney General will be appointed, and I was one in this state but if you look at your duties under the constitution, it says you are to hold every authority, everybody exercising public authority in this country accountable. Now that constitution is almost at the same level as the duty and the constitutional mandate given to Judiciary so when people say you are the fourth person of the realm you are actually a very powerful arm of Government season driven and led, and always available to serve the public interest. Let me at this point appreciate the contribution of our wonderful leaders of our nations media. You are the people who fought for the independence of our country. You are leaders of our nation’s media fought the British and colonial masters. Gave us enlightenments in the period of darkness. And even when our Nation came under the period of military dictatorship, you stood up to your traditional calling and your historic responsibility as defenders of our Nation. Now I enjoin you to rise up as we rediscover ourselves and fashion out a new National ethics, a new set of National Values, a new Nigeria which not everybody know has already started. Our children, the younger generation coming up do not subscribe to the historic prejudice of their fore-days, if you ask your children who their best friends are they may not mention anybody from your state of origin or ethnic group, that is the new Nigeria. But you the
leaders of our nation must do more so that when we are talking of leadership in our state, local government areas and Nation we do not stock with historical prejudices of tribe and religion ethnicity. We should be talking about concrete capacity for delivery because I the end hunger and most other problems including insecurity know no ethnicity nor tribe. That is the change I urge you all to facilitate and stimulate.

In this state since I became Governor, we have delivered so much on change even before the change maxim became National we are already there. Before they started and conceiving and talking about change, change came to Bayelsa. So I want to thank you again for giving us this opportunity to talk again about change. when we took over and we stopped young people from being killed on the streets of Yenagoa, when their government use state resources to form criminality, violence in the streets of Yenagoa the Government became chief sponsor of terror against its people. On the very day I declared my ambition to run five harmless Bayelsans were shot down in the streets of Yenagoa, just to intimidate me and my subordinates. and from that terrible past we have been constructed to a new Bayelsa where we have become one of the safest and most peaceful states in the federal republic of Nigeria. at a time that our Nation was violent, the president came to campaign
here in Bayelsa I took the decision to give the safest and the best public facility, the stadium. I said, APC come and campaign. That is the Nation we leave and I know what I went through, a lot of propaganda. Just two or three weeks back, there was something that was that planned but we Bayelsans know that the distractions amount to nothing it was just a media propaganda . As we were coming in we saw some women under the umbrella well I want them to know they haven’t seen anything yet they should wait for the day of election. They applied to me but I told them no, this is an era of democracy nobody should be denied a facility even if they opponents there shouldn’t be an enmity between us. let there be no personal issue between us. They campaigned against me rallied against me and I did nothing and this is the first time something of this sort has happened in this state, several people rallied on the streets and people complained but I told them it was
their right to rally and campaign against, police go and protect them us just make sure there is no violence on either sides, now that’s the change we talk about and need.

Meanwhile on the other side our opponents denied our people the use of state facilities by the advocates of change these are not the managers of change it is wrong. I urge you all as you are here to enjoy the hospitality, beauty, and serenity the place that your original change government has brought about in Bayelsa, this is the government of peace, security and stability which is the most important condition for development the government.

I met with my team and stated that security must be given top priority, if there is enough time I’d like to show you people the security command and control facility which is part of our programme, haven’t heard this in other states, as we move on you people will see the cctv coverage of our state and am glad the president recently made that a priority it shows the seriousness and proper understanding and I recommend him for trying to increase the strength of the police.

But also I will like to state that there are other structural issues that should be discussed like the kind of culture, government and security institutions we want to have in this state, we have turned the town into a construction site for the past three years, for those that have been here before will have noticed the difference even our president must have been shocked at the change. This is indeed new Yenagoa and a new Bayelsa, there’s been new roads because we want Bayelsa to be the Dubia of Nigeria, if you have time to go around you will see the quality of our roads which from the government that spent five years in governance, the number of our youths who deal on hard drugs have surprisingly increased, they only built one or two foot parts but we are doing dualizations which they say is part of the offence I committed that I have given jobs to the best construction companies like have Julius Berger, Dantata and Sao amongst others building and
dualizing our roads and even our infrastructures, these are real and authentic companies they produce the best. That should tell you the focus and commitment of my Government.

There is a major point we need to get clear, projects here are far more expensive than other states probably because of the nature of our environment, projects here are 20-30 times more expensive I could go on to describe the environment and how tedious it is to construct anything major but am a lawyer so we can only go with the basics but if you go around you will see the proof for yourselves. When I came into governance I promised my people three things, I said I won’t play politics with their security, development and also I will not play politics when it comes to projecting, propagating and defending the ijaw national interest within the context of a united and egalitarian Nigeria and that is one category of physical development that has never been experienced before. I enjoin you all to find time as you stay here to see for yourselves our roads and constructions, as I have spoken to your president to make funds available to you to see the serenity
of our state. These my friends are things we should build our national consensus about, the hospitality, education and economy. In the last three years, inspite of the dwindling resources we have invested 23billion naira on building educational infrastructure here, schools, schools and schools, scholarships and we have more scholars from Bayelsa than all put together before I came. With the lessons of Oloibiri, we now know that whatever is under this soil is a waste asset the only asset that does not waste is the human asset, the human resources that is why development of human capacity building, we have discovered investing in human resources is far more important than what is in the land.

That is why there is investment in human and capacity building in our state, every constituency now has a boarding school summing a total of 25 which has made Bayelsa one of the most educated states unlike before, we have scholarships for over 500 children scattered across the country, weac and neco have been fully paid by the government no parent paid a penny this is the change and revolution we have come to bring about.

I want to thank you again for coming and giving me the opportunity to actually say some of these things without holding a press conference. Before I declare this conference opened I want to state that the media is very important because every society is what the judicial and the media makes it to be, if there must be a smooth and good government then the media must be part of it because the society can only be free as the media makes it be. The media on the other hand needs to do a self examination because as they say to whom much is given much is excepted. And as a governor who is managing the political situation, alot of factors came in which also lost power at the centre coupled with the current recession the country is in I have discovered that the things I have been reading have no bearings with the reality we live in, I often ask myself where our media is headed to because sometimes a story has no facts or basics. Sometime ago a very popular online publisher called and I was talking with him for the first time, everyday you see one negative story about me or the other and I told him ”look I am enjoying this negative story oh’.

On a more serious note your correspondents on ground is bad, people write stories and views and put up names sometimes in favour of a particular government which is not the nature of media our nation gave us. I want to use this medium to encourage the media to be more open particularly for people like us who love the media and who might one day decide to venture into the profession. thank you all for the wonderful job despite the imperfections in our nation and institutions and humans but we should strive towards perfection which is my parting words to our media because they are the light of our society. I have made an offer to your acting president that as the governor of the state I’d like to host the media conference annually in yenagoa and if it is accepted I will direct my commissioner for information to create an office in radio house under the ministry of information because we are opening our doors to the world to come to Bayelsa and Bayelsa to
the world. If my offer is accepted I promise that next year you will be landing at our airport in Bayelsa which is about 60% completed and we hope to give you a more hospitable reception.

On this note, with all pleasure and a sense of responsibility I declare the 11th session of the annual Nigerian Editors conference holding in our great state Bayelsa open. I wish you all a very peaceful stay.

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